Archive for the ‘Presidential election’ Category
By John Feehery
The President’s second inaugural brilliantly pushed forward his political agenda in ways that Republicans need to understand and learn from.
Republicans will never be able to outbid the President when it comes to coalition politics. But they need to appreciate how coalition politics, as practiced by the Democrats in the Obama era, is played and they need to come up with a game plan to counter it.
The President’s message was aspirational for the country, inspirational for his coalition partners and infuriating for his opposition. He was able to make the cause of his diverse coalition – gays, immigrants, anti-gun people, African-Americans, Hispanics, poor people – seemingly the most important cause of the nation. And he dared the Republicans to oppose it.
He skillfully weaved the story of America into the story of these coalition partners, ignoring the arguments from the other side, and posited in unsubtle terms that to oppose his agenda was essentially un-patriotic.
Most importantly, the President set out a road-map to complete the mission. His message was sharply positive, and he promised to give his partners something, not take something away from the people who elected him.
Republicans keep promising the American people, and these same coalition partners, that they are going to take things away, all in the name of fiscal restraint. Republicans used to argue for growing the pie, in the name of economic growth. Now, they argue that everything is too expensive and that benefits must be cut. They are like the teetotalers who show up a Keg party and tell everybody that drinking beer is bad for you.
Mitt Romney’s campaign, for example promised to stop a tax break for wind energy in Iowa. That may have given Mitt some fiscal credibility, but it also lost him Iowa.
Republicans don’t do coalition politics very well, which could probably explain why they don’t have a very big coalition any more. But instead of outbidding Obama, they could try to talk about the universal benefits of their policies, tailored more specifically to each group.
But first, they have to stop hating people. They have to stop hating gay people, Hispanic people, black people, single females, thesbians, etc. and they have to condemn their so-called allies who go out of their way to offend them.
They have to then start talking about economic growth. And they can’t talk about economic growth only with their big donors or in their districts. They have to talk about economic growth in the big cities, in areas beset by poverty, for immigrants, for Hispanics, for Asians, for blacks.
They need to ditch their anti-government message and develop an economic growth message. They need to come up with politics where government can be transformed to help spur growth. Getting rid of all government won’t work. Making government work better will work.
They need to get onto a personal security message. They need to think critically about how to change the war on drugs into a war on addiction. They need to think less about throwing people into jail after a crime is committed and more about making sure the crime isn’t committed in the first place. This message will work especially well in high crime areas.
Republicans need a political reform message. They have got their heads handed to them on voter fraud in the last election. That was seen as an effort to suppress the vote, a bad message for a party that has inherited a good portion of the Dixiecrat coalition. Clean elections should include campaign finance reform, earmark reform and over-all making sure that more people who want to vote, can vote. We should be pushing for a bigger political pie because we want more voters, not fewer voters, to vote for us. We should drop cynicism as a political strategy. If Republicans promise and then deliver cleaner, more honest elections, they will be promising the voters something they actually want.
Republicans also need to expand the pro-family message that the party thinks it has a lock on. A two-parent family usually does better than a single-parent family, for obvious reasons. Twice the resources (quite often), twice the parental involvement, twice the efficiency in spending. But Republicans don’t need to get all preachy about it. And a pro-family message doesn’t have to be anti-gay. While marriage is important and I am big supporter of it, successful families don’t necessarily include marriage. It can include the extended family that comes from many immigrant communities. Republicans should be all for keeping these family together with common sense immigration policies. The important things that come from a family are love, stability, teamwork, and the creation of good habits for the kids, which helps makes them better citizens for all of us. The world is a complex place and it is changing rapidly. The GOP shouldn’t be stuck pining for the past. They should be promoting policies that make it easier for families (in all of their forms) to thrive in the future.
America wants a positive message from its political leaders. It also wants to know what the politicians are going to do for them, not to them. A e can trump Obama’s brand of goodies for every separate group. But first the GOP has to try it.
By John Feehery
Historians will rate President Barack Obama as one our nation’s greatest Presidents.
The question is: Was he any good?
That the history profession is dominated by a liberal elite comes as no surprise. Robert Dallek, Arthur Schleschinger, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Michael Beschloss would all rank both Jack Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson towards the top of the list and Ronald Reagan towards the bottom. George W. Bush will never ever get his due for how he handled 9/11 attacks as he passed landmark education and Medicare legislation or for his remarkable commitment to fighting AIDS in Africa.
Mr. Obama broke the Presidential color-line, which is an impressive and historic feat. He did it by building a world-class campaign apparatus, one that will forever be a model for political campaigns to come. Historians will note that Mr. Obama came to office amid a financial crisis, and will bend over backwards to give him credit for the fact that the nation survived it. They will say that he successfully bailed out the struggling auto industry. They will call him a war-time President and give him credit for killing Osama Bin Laden.
All of that is true. But any historian worth his (or her) salt, should analyze the entire record.
It was George Bush who got the Congress to pass TARP, a controversial but indispensable government program that kept the financial industry solvent. The auto bailout, also controversial, was also initiated by Bush in the last days of his Presidency.
Obama took the Bush programs in both cases and perverted them, making them less effective. He took the TARP program and made it a government spending program. He took the auto bailout and made sure the unions were bailed out.
When it comes to the wars, Obama made exactly the wrong call. He went all in on Afghanistan and pulled critical support for the Iraq regime. We have wasted billions in a never-ending effort to bring the Afghani people into the 19th century, while opening the door for greater Iranian influence in Iraq.
The President has taken a small Bush drone program and made it the chief way to we battle terrorists, all over the world. Liberal historians who supposedly care about the big moral questions surrounding state-sanctioned assassination should not let Obama off the hook on this one, but my guess is that they will.
On the domestic front, Obama’s spending policies should go down as the most irresponsible in our nation’s history, but my guess is that the historians themselves will give the President a pass. He created a brand new health care entitlement by raiding from another entitlement, knowing that the Medicare cuts would in all likelihood not be enacted. His initial spending program, dubbed a stimulus by the White House, was a trillion dollar pork-fest, which included every single spending hope and aspiration of every Democrat that had gotten elected to the Congress in the last decade. The efficacy of that spending was best demonstrated by Solndra going bankrupt.
As the first African American President, Obama has done precious little to help that beleaguered community increase its chances of advancing into the middle class. Black unemployment is worse than it was during the Bush or Reagan Administrations. Black on black violence in Chicago, the President’s home town, is reaching catastrophic numbers. Thankfully, for those who live in Washington D.C., the murder rate is down significantly, but the unemployment rate is still much worse than for every other ethnic group.
It is hard to say that racial polarization has improved during the Obama years, and you can make the case it is much worse. That’s not Obama’s fault, but he hasn’t done much to make it better.
A President usually makes his bones internationally. Obama is more popular than George W. Bush in places outside the Untied States. But does that mean he is more effective? How is he pushing our national agenda forward?
Well, let’s see.
The Middle East is a complete mess. We have exchanged a pro-American regime for a pro-Islamist regime in Egypt. We pushed out a secular regime in Libya, and now an Islamist regime that may or may not have been complicit in the murder of our Ambassador is in power. We are pushing out another secular regime in Syria, and will likely have another Islamist Republic on our hands.
In Asia, we owe the Chinese a shit load more money than we did at the start of the Obama years, and that limits our options. The North Koreans now have a nuclear weapon and a missile capable of reaching the United States. They have a new dictator there, a younger, pudgier version, but it is not clear how he will use his weaponry. The Japanese has elected the most nationalistic Prime Minister in the last 50 years, and tensions between Japan and China are as high as they have been in decades.
Now, this is not Obama’s fault. I get that. But the President has been absent when it comes to the region, and, as I pointed out, we owe the Chinese a shit load more money than we did four years ago. That limits our options about what we can realistically do there.
The President likes to compare himself to a combination of the Franklin Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower. Ike left us a highway system and a budget surplus. FDR left us Social Security and a vanquished Nazi regime.
Obama is going to leave us with a huge national debt, a more fractured political landscape and a confusing mess called Obamacare. That’s not much of a legacy, in my view.